Great Scott

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Bruce Markusen

Without question, George “Boomer” Scott was one of the most distinctive looking athletes of his or any other era. Longtime Topps photographer Doug McWilliams captures him magnificently in this mid-1970s photograph, which is reflective of how different the game – and its players – looked back in the days of Technicolor and other psychedelic sights and sounds.

From 1971 to 1995, McWilliams served Topps Chewing Gum as one of its west coast photographers. He covered spring training in Arizona every year, traveling throughout Cactus League locations in February and March. He took thousands of photographs of players and managers, including stars for such Cactus League mainstays as the Oakland A’s, the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers. He also photographed numerous regular season games at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. His inventory includes shots of everyone from Hank Aaron to Willie McCovey to Ted Williams, providing a thorough retrospective of baseball in the expansion era.

1. Milwaukee’s Gold Glove first baseman George Scott poses for Topps photographer Doug McWilliams at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, circa 1975. - BL-MB76-367 (Doug McWilliams / National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Along the way, McWilliams snapped this memorable photograph of Scott, a widely popular slugger who led the American League with 36 home runs and 109 RBI in 1975. Here we see the oversized Scott wearing the gaudy powder blue and yellow-trimmed road uniforms that the Brewers sported from 1974 to 1977. With his massive size – Scott weighed anywhere from 200 to 250 pounds during his career – Scott fills out the form-fitting polyester uniform in his own unique way.

In addition to highlighting Scott’s frame, McWilliams’ vibrantly colorful photograph also includes three distinctive “fashion” choices made by Scott. We clearly see his enormous first baseman’s mitt, one that helped the surehanded Scott win some of the eight Gold Glove Awards he accumulated during his career. When he played first base for the Brewers, Scott also wore a helmet instead of a cloth cap, much like another contemporary first baseman, Dick Allen. It was a habit that Scott picked up in response to some unruly fans who had pelted him with debris during a road game.

The photograph also gives us a glimpse of Scott’s unusual necklace. When reporters asked the offbeat Scott what the necklace consisted of, he smiled and said, “Second baseman’s teeth.” In reality, the necklace featured a variety of shells, wooden beads and ivory tusks, but Scott’s answer epitomized his own gallows humor, while also underscoring how intimidating he could be to middle infielders who anticipated his ferocious take-out slides on double play attempts.

The image of Scott is one of over 10,000 that McWilliams donated to the Hall of Fame in 2010. His donation greatly strengthened the Hall’s photo collection, filling in some major gaps from the 1970s and 1980s. Though he is now retired from Topps, McWilliams remains in the news. In February, he will be inducted into the Cactus League Museum’s hall of fame, a deserving honor for the man who so encapsulated the vibrant visual imagery of baseball in the swinging seventies.

Bruce Markusen is the manager of digital and outreach learning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame

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The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum features a collection of nearly 250,000 photographs like this one. Reproductions are available for purchase. To purchase a reprint of this photograph or others from the Photo Archive collections, please call (607) 547-0375 or email [email protected]. Hall of Fame members receive a 10-percent discount.

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Part of the SHORT STOPS series